Statement from Catholic Bishops in England and Wales on violence in the Holy Land
Bishop Declan Lang, Chair of the Bishops’ International Affairs department, has echoed calls for an end to “the occupation, discrimination and human rights violations that propagate violent attacks on civilians, standing in the way of a stable and peaceful future for Palestinians and Israelis.”
We pray as people of peace for an end to the violence engulfing the Holy Land
NJPN expresses deep shock at escalating violence in Israel/Palestine
Those present at the AGM of the National Justice and Peace Network, meeting on Saturday, were deeply shocked to hear of the attack by Israeli Police on Palestinians at prayer in the Al Aqsa Mosque on Friday evening. Palestinian worshippers have been denied access to the Al Aqsa Mosque during Ramadan and this, along with the police and military incursions into this holy place, the use of stun grenades, rubber coated steel bullets and water cannons on those at worship, all contravene international law.
2021 May NJPN Open Letter to Card Nichols on Jerusalem attacks
NW NJPN E-Bulletin to cover Mid-May into June 2021
An extra edition of the NW NJPN E-Bulletin to cover Mid-May into June – too many current articles to hold over till next time! Features include reflections for the 100th anniversary of the partition of Ireland; Richard Ratcliffe’s powerful account of his wife Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s plight as his battle to secure her release drags on; birthday wishes and support for 84 year-old Indian Jesuit, Fr Stan Swamy, imprisoned on charges of terrorism; the Covid emergency in India where faiths are working together to help those in crisis; a moving opinion piece by a woman who has felt marginalised by the Church because of being childless; an interview with Sr. Nathalie Becquart, one of the two new undersecretaries for the Vatican’s office of the Synod of Bishops which gives hope that the laity (and women) will have a voice in the upcoming synod; an account of President Biden’s first 100 days in office which give cause for hope; conflicting statements on the issue of same sex unions resulting in young people walking away from the Church; obituaries of Fr John Kearns CP and Michael Bourdeaux, founder of Keston College; plus resources and diary dates.
NW NJPN Justice and Peace E Bulletin Mid May 2021
NJPN Column in the Catholic Universe: Paul Southgate – Hell is a Dustbowl
This month I begin work in the allotment in earnest. I remember that there is no such thing as permanently perfect soil. All things change. You can only aim at having a vigorous, living, breathing soil. It’s like justice and peace: “Goodness, together with love, justice and solidarity are not achieved once and for all; they have to be realised each day” (Pope Francis, Fratelli Tutti 11).
Paul Southgate – Hell is a Dustbowl
NJPN E-Bulletin 25th April 2021
This weekend the Church celebrates Good Shepherd Sunday, where we are asked to pray for vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life. Whether we have a particular leaning in that direction or not, we all have a vocation for something. The dictionary sums up vocation as ‘a strong feeling of suitability for a particular career or occupation.’ I believe that all of us here are called to follow Jesus, and as CAFOD, in their weekly reflections say ‘Following him demands that we take care of the weak, vulnerable and marginalised in our world so that they are accepted and valued for themselves. Like Jesus, our love and acceptance are to be given freely and non-judgmentally. Our ear is always to be tuned to the voice of the Good Shepherd who leads us to new places and people and invites us to welcome all with open arms as he did.’
We cannot let this edition pass by without reference to the trial of Derek Chauvin, and comments surrounding the Guilty verdict. Our hope is that after the scenes from last year, and the outpouring of emotion from all around the World, that good will come out of it all, and that lessons will have been learned. I know many of us are now much more aware of racist issues in all walks of life.
In two weeks time, on Saturday 8th May, we have our AGM and Networking Day. The flyer for the day is at the top of this e-bulletin. You can register here. It would be great to see as many of you as possible for this meeting, which takes place via Zoom.
This also means that I won’t be producing the e-bulletin until the following week, the 16th May.
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NJPN E-Bulletin 25 April
NJPN Comment in the Catholic Universe – Rob Esdaile – St George, Dragon Slayer
It is striking that, over 1700 centuries after the martyrdom of St. George, whose feast coincides with the publication of this week’s issue of The Universe, this slightly obscure Palestinian Roman soldier saint (who might well be denied a visa by the Home Office if he tried to visit the UK) is still venerated as England’s patron saint. His cult was seemingly popularised by returning Crusaders. Their militaristic cross became his emblem. The medieval legend of him killing a dragon and rescuing of a damsel in distress further added to his allure.
St. George then became a symbol of nationhood, most famously on the lips of Shakespeare’s Henry V: “Cry God for Harry, England and St. George.” But note the pecking order: King first, Country second, Saint third. It’s hard to stop religious symbols from being co-opted by those in power – even in our secularised culture. Around the world, politicians like to ‘wrap themselves in the flag’. And those rallying to their standard are unlikely to register its ambiguities. What we see as a symbol of the Gospel, that blood red cross, is for many Muslims a reminder of past Christian cruelties. The burden of history lies heavily on all of us – even across our best intentions.
Now we witness the danger of the Union Jack becoming unstitched, torn by the centrifugal forces unleashed by Brexit. Will St. George’s flag one day be left to fly alone? What does his cross say about the English nation – assuming England actually is a nation? (One interpretation of those angry Brexit debates says that the Remain campaign ultimately failed because it stressed a shared British identity, while those it needed to convince thought of themselves, first and foremost, as English.)
Whatever our personal take on British history, whatever our national or regional identities, we need to discover shared values and work together to build a common future, a unity that can embrace diversity. That’s less about where we place political borders than about what dragons we choose to slay: perhaps the dragon that dreams lazily of past imperial power, or the dragon of accepting chronic poverty alongside enormous wealth, or the dragon of environmental destruction that threatens the future of us all. Which ‘damsels’ – the defenceless and vulnerable of our age – need rescuing? We’ll need all the courage St. George showed both in his obscure history and in later legend.
Fr Rob Esdaile is parish priest of Our Lady of Lourdes, Thames Ditton
National Justice and Peace Network (NJPN) Conference 23-25 July at https://www.justice-and-peace.org.uk/conference/
May 2021 NW NJPN ebulletin
In a packed issue, the May NW NJPN E-Bulletin covers a wide range of subjects: 8 years after Rana Plaza factory collapse which killed 1,138 people and injured many more on 24 April 2013, we look at concerns over poor safety standards, forced child and adult labour, fair trade and the environmental impact of the fashion industry as we celebrate Fashion Revolution Week 19-25 April; a new survey invites children to share their hopes for a post-pandemic world; there are resources for Refugee Week 14-20 June; articles on COP26 and ambitious plans to reach net zero carbon emissions in the North West by 2040; a report of the verdict just announced in the George Floyd murder trial; a review of a Channel 4 documentary examining the UK police policy of Stop and Search which targets a disproportionate number of young black men; serious concerns about the UK government’s lack of support for the Palestinian people as raised by the Balfour Project and echoed by many NGOs; and a fruitful dialogue and apology following an article in the April E-Bulletin relating to the suspension of a teacher in Batley that some regarded as Islamophobic.
Please pass on to others.
NW NJPN Justice and Peace E Bulletin May 2021 
NJPN E-Bulletin 11th April 2021
I hope Easter was kind to you, and that many of you were able to enjoy the rather shortened versions of the Easter Services.
Leading the main news this weekend is, of course, the death of Prince Philip, husband of Queen Elizabeth for 73 years, and Prince Consort since 1952. Whether you are a Royalist or not, you cannot fail to recognise the work that Prince Philip has done for this country; in particular the setting up of the Duke of Edinburgh Award, which has helped many disaffected youth over the past 54 years; plus his early warnings on the impact we were having on the environment, long before it became fashionable. I have included a couple of articles summing up his life and legacies. We thank him for his service and pray that he may rest in peace. Our thoughts and prayers are with Queen Elizabeth and their family at this time.
There are lots of other articles covering our justice and peace values, and many events going on, mainly remotely, at this present time. Our own AGM and Networking Day is taking place on Saturday 8th May, details of which is in the Events Section of this e-bulletin.
To finish off, I wanted to share the words that I read on CAFOD’s Weekly Reflections this week:-
‘For ourselves, we now have the facts about climate change, global inequalities and discrimination brought clearly before us over the last year, so we cannot continue as we did before.
On this Divine Mercy Sunday, can we grasp the opportunity to do things differently and live in a new way? Can we take Christ’s peace into the world and foster fullness of life, for all our sisters and brothers in need?’
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NJPN E-Bulletin 11th April 2021
NJPN Column in the Catholic Universe: Paul Southgate – Energised or Paralysed?
Pope Francis proposed a striking image of Church: “I see the church as a field hospital after battle.” What the Church needs most today, he says, is the ability to heal wounds and to warm the hearts of the faithful; it needs nearness, proximity.
This is the very quality Covid has denied us. We have been isolated, socially distanced, locked down, furloughed, un-hugged and un-plugged.
Paul Southgate – Energised or Paralysed
CARJ: Response to Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities
‘The report is rich with data, but its interpretations and reflections go beyond the data and are questionable. However, many of its recommendations should be given thoughtful consideration. The report has met with a chorus of criticism from reputable sources.
We share many of these criticisms, and we are especially concerned about the Report’s sceptical discussion of institutional racism’
Read the briefing statement here: CARJ Briefing April 21